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Cuts to St. Luke’s Hospital maternity services 'shortsighted and dangerous' – Funchion

18 January, 2017 - by Kathleen Funchion TD

Sinn Féin TD for Carlow-Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has said the Minister’s response to her questions last night indicated a green light for plans to cut services and that any move to take beds from the gynaecological and maternity wards will inevitably  put patients, including new born babies, at risk of infection as any overflow on the ward will affect conditions.

She said:

“Judging by Minister McGrath comments last night, the proposal to cut maternity services at St. Luke’s hospital has clearly gotten the green light by the HSE. 

“I raised the urgent and critical issue of the proposals to use Maternity beds at St Luke’s hospital to help address the current overcrowding.  I was seeking assurance from Minister for Health Simon Harris that this would be examined given the huge concerns of both hospital staff and patients.  

“Any move to take beds from the gynaecological and maternity wards will inevitably  put patients, including new born babies, at risk of infection as  any overflow on the ward will affect conditions.

“There would also be safety and privacy concerns, for both women and their babies.

“I feel, and more importantly the staff, doctors, and specialists at St. Luke’s believe that if this is implemented, it would be reckless move on the part of St. Luke’s management – showing no regard for the health and well-being of female patients and new born babies in the gynaecology and maternity wards.

“Minister of State Finian McGrath took my questions on behalf of the Health Minister and said he has been assured that any beds used for emergency department referrals would be in an enclosed 4-bed bay and not part of a larger maternity ward.

“However, having been a patient myself there and being familiar with the layout in that part of the hospital I know the circumstances and that cross contamination is a significant risk as patients on that corridor would no doubt share facilities. Why take such a risk?

“We also know that Census 2016 indicated an increase of 4.1% in population of Carlow and 3.9% in Kilkenny. The projected requirement for maternity services in the 25-44 years age group (child bearing) will increase which would support the need for developing services as opposed to cutting them.

“I have made repeated attempts to get clarification from management at St. Luke’s Hospital but to date have not had a response. I am incredibly disappointed at this.

“The staff at St Luke’s have stated that if a 15% reduction in current bed capacity goes ahead, the quality and safety of care provided will be greatly comprised when women are allocated to beds on corridors, which they feel is a forgone conclusion given the restraints they are currently under.

“Finally, if this decision is put into motion it will impact significantly on staff morale which in turn can cause issues with maintaining a properly staffed work force and enticing future midwives to St. Luke’s unit.

“Both short and long term repercussions of this move would be huge for the patients and staff’s wellbeing and safety.

“I am unhappy with the Minister’s response and will not be letting this issue go. I’m asking both the Minister and the HSE to listen to the concerns of those who are working on the frontline - to see the wider picture and understand the potential consequences.” 

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